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Paige VanZant is about to be one of MMA’s hottest free agents.
With one fight left on her current UFC deal, VanZant (8-4 MMA, 5-3 UFC) says she wants to fight out her contract.
“12 Gauge” is currently sidelined after undergoing a third surgery on her arm in early June. She is on the road to recovery, though, and said she doesn’t want to renegotiate a contract with the UFC while she’s out of action.
“It’s the last fight on my current UFC contract so I’ll be fighting it out,” VanZant told The Score. “I think I’m just curious to see what I can do. I feel like I want to prove to the UFC what I’m worth, and I think it’s going to take one more fight for me to do that, especially because fight fans are so – you’re easily forgotten in the fight world. They watch a fight happen and they’re already focused on the one that’s happening next week, so I want it to be fresh in their minds going into a contract negotiation, not fresh off of a broken arm.”
While the timeline for her return is not yet fully determined, VanZant said she’s hoping to be cleared by doctors to train this week, as she edges closer to an octagon return.
“I still haven’t gotten the all-clear to train,” VanZant said. “I’m hoping to get cleared by Wednesday to start doing a little bit more with my arm. I’m not supposed to hold anything more than a coffee cup or a cell phone, like, in my right hand. It’s still extremely limited, so I did start hitting pads just with my left hand and with my legs and knees and doing as much as I can, but I’m hoping to get the all-clear soon.”
VanZant recently made the move up to flyweight after notoriously suffering in her weight cuts down to 115 pounds. She went 1-1, dropping her 125-pound debut to Jessica-Rose Clark at UFC Fight Night 124 January 2018, breaking her arm in the fight. She returned one year later to submit Rachael Ostovich at UFC on ESPN+ 1 and is now unsure which weight class she’ll compete at next.
She’s pondered at the idea of going back down to 115 pounds, but said recently seeing a teammate struggle with a weight cut reminded her of the nightmare days she suffered while cutting down to the strawweight division.
It’s all up in the air for her at this point.
“I don’t know; honestly, it’s something that I know I can go back and forth,” VanZant said, “It’s always like, ‘All right I’m going to go make a run at 115,’ I have it set in my mind, then I see someone do an awful weight cut and have something traumatic happen to them. Like, I had my mind set on going down to 115, then I walked into my gym and one of my teammates was, like, going into a heatstroke and we had to call the ambulance. He couldn’t move, so I think of all those things and the effects it’s having on my body, and I’ve been watching a lot of the fights lately, and I know I’m a player in both divisions.”
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